Mondays–Vol.2 Episode 8–A Flutterby

A Flutterby, A Flutterby
You came to visit and I wonder why.
Was it something I smelled or drank or ate?
Will you please go away?
I just can’t wait!

I’m such a poet and I didn’t know it. Lol. Well, not really but my ode to A Flutterby I, unfortunately, know all too well. The A Flutterby of which I speak so eloquently is Atrial Flutter or “A Flutter”, the second most common heart arrhythmia after Atrial Fibrillation.
If you’ll recall, back last year in January, I had a Radio Frequency Ablation to treat my Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter. Shortly after my ablation, I experienced two episodes of Atrial Flutter, both of which were treated with Cardioversions (electric shocks to the heart under anesthesia.) The doctor kept me on the antiarrhythmic medication, Amiodarone, until the end of November and since I’d had only one short episode of Flutter during the preceding ten months, he took me off of it. The one episode I had, I believe was brought on by dehydration. I was so excited to be coming off the heart medication because it is just something I’ve never felt comfortable with knowing a chemical was changing my heart.

A little over two weeks ago, after being off my Amiodarone for almost two full months, I felt my heart doing some flip-flops and skipping regular beats. Then sometime during the night, my heart began its rapid beating with my heart rate consistently between 100-125 beats per minute. The average heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute and heartbeats up to 100 beats per minute are still considered normal. After 100 beats per minute, it is considered tachycardia (or fast heartbeat–go figure, lol.)
I went along with rapid heart rate taking an occasional Metoprolol (which is a heart rate reducing medication) for a week when I finally decided I would have to go to the Electrophysiologist to get a confirmation of what I feared, Atrial Flutter.

According to WebMd, Atrial Flutter is described as follows:

Your heartbeat is a sort of electrical circuit. Sometimes the signals cause it go awry. Atrial flutter results from an abnormal circuit inside the right atrium, or upper chamber of your heart. It beats extra fast, about 250-400 beats per minute. A normal heartbeat is 60-100 beats per minute.

https://baycare.org/health-library/what-is-atrial-flutter-atrial-fibrillation

The beat slows down when the signals reach the AV node, a bundle of cells in the upper wall of muscle between the ventricles, your heart’s lower chambers. It usually slows the beats by a fourth or a half, or down to somewhere between 150 and 75 beats per minute.

An abnormally fast heart rate is called tachycardia. Because atrial flutter comes from the atria, it is called a supraventricular (above the ventricles) tachycardia.

atrial flutter ekg
So, why in my Ode to A Flutterby would I mention food or drink? Turns out often episodes of Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter can be “triggered” by eating or drinking something specifically for me, drinking something cold.

The reason behind this is the Vagus nerve runs from the brain through the face and thorax to the abdomen. Stimulation of the vagus nerve is responsible for controlling gastrointestinal motility which is basically the movement of food and drink through the digestive track and can sometimes initiate episodes of AFib. I don’t completely understand how this works exactly, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to make you believe it.

So what’s next on the agenda for me? I’m to stay on an increased dosage of the heart med for four weeks and then when I return to the doctor, if my heart has not converted back to “sinus” rhythm, they’ll do another cardioversion. After that, I’m guessing the doctor will suggested a follow-up ablation, but that remains to be seen.

 

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